Roasted Honeynut squash topped with maple pecans is a delicious side dish that is perfect for your holiday table, but it is also easy enough for a weeknight meal.
These tiny Honeynut squash pack a punch of flavor and nutrition – quite a bit more than their larger counterparts. The flesh is a deeper orange than butternut, indicating a higher level of beta carotene, making them more nutrient-dense.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Why you should make this recipe
If you love roasted squash recipes and like different textures in a dish, I think you’ll enjoy this dish.
- Seasonal – Honeynut squash is available in early fall, so grab them while you can.
- Quick & easy – This recipe takes about 40 minutes, most of that time is hands-off.
- Versatile – Swap out butternut squash or your favorite variety if you can’t find Honeynut.
Honeynut squash recipe
I snagged about a half dozen Honeynuts last week. I went back and forth on how I wanted to prepare them. But finally landed on a casserole of sorts, full of autumnal flavors, that would be perfect for Thanksgiving.
If you are unfamiliar with a Honeynut squash, they look like a miniature version of a butternut. They weigh in around one pound and they stand approximately 4 – 6 inches in height.
Fairly new to markets, the Honeynut was the brainchild of my former Chef from Blue Hill and a plant geneticist. You can read about how this tiny squash came to be here.
Most often, they are split in half and roasted as is, but I decided to thinly slice and fan them out so the edges would caramelize a bit and give it that luscious bit of texture.
Pecans simmered in maple syrup are drizzled over the top and then crumbles of fresh goat cheese are sprinkled over it. The Honeynut casserole is finished with fresh herbs for a bit of color and freshness. And, I must say, it is bang on.
This vegetarian side is easily made vegan by omitting the goat cheese or subbing a vegan cheese.
Roasted Honeynut squash
Honeynut squash are perfect for roasting, because the skin is edible. Technically, you do not have to peel it. You can slice them in half, remove the seeds and roast it.
However, I’d suggest you use your best judgement here. There is a difference between it being edible and being pleasant to eat. Delicata squash is quite nice, as is acorn squash. And, normally, so is Honeynut.
The skin on a couple of mine felt a bit thicker than usual, so I peeled them to be on the safe side.
How to cook Honeynut squash
Here’s a quick summary of how to make roasted Honeynut squash. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.
Place the squash on your cutting board and firmly hold in place while you slice the top and bottom off with your sharpest Chef’s knife.
Then use a vegetable peeler (if you choose to peel), I like my y peeler for this job, to remove just the outer skin. The skin is not as thick as other winter squash, so no need to go more than once on this for your roasted Honeynut squash.
Finally, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. You can roast the seeds, so don’t toss them. Follow the method for roasted Hubbard squash seeds to see how easy it is.
Thinly slice the squash and place in your shallow casserole dish. I used a 10″ quiche pan that has 1 1/2 inch sides. Use whatever you have that is similar in size.
Drizzle olive oil over the sliced Honeynut, season with salt and pepper and slide it into the oven.
In restaurant kitchens, we never pour oil onto food out of a big bottle. As you can see in the photo, I use a squeeze bottle. The stream of oil is very small, allowing you to use less, while also allowing you to be more precise.
PRO TIP: Use a squeeze bottle to drizzle oil over the squash. It is much easier to control than a big bottle of olive oil. You’ll use less oil and you’ll get better coverage.
How to make maple pecan syrup
To top our roasted Honeynut squash, we’re making maple pecans, but in a lovely syrup for drizzling over the top. The goal is to thicken the syrup enough to give it a bit of stickiness, as real maple syrup can be quite thin.
First, toast the pecans in a dry pot. Then pour maple syrup over them. Bring to a boil and let the syrup thicken.
Be careful not to let it cook down too much – it can turn grainy, and you want to be able to drizzle the syrup over the squash. If it is too thick, the pecans will come out in clumps because they’ll be stuck together.
We want to soften the pecans and coat them with a sticky syrup, we’re not trying to make crunchy pecans that you would toss in a salad.
The maple pecan syrup is drizzled over the roasted Honeynut squash, then it goes back into the oven for a few minutes to allow the syrup to get a bit sticky on top. Soft goat cheese is crumbled over the whole thing while it’s warm, making the cheese almost melt.
Finish the dish with fresh herbs. I used parsley because that’s what I had. Thyme, marjoram or even chives would also be really nice here.
And there you have it – a super simple roasted Honeynut squash side dish that would be right at home on your Thanksgiving table, but is easy enough for a midweek dinner.
Roasted squash FAQ’s
You can! For best results, roast the squash ahead of time, then make the pecans while the squash is reheating.
Yes. I would suggest freezing the squash by itself, then adding the garnishes before serving.
If properly stored, in an airtight container, it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Thanksgiving side dishes
This roasted Honeynut squash recipe will be making an appearance on our holiday table, as well as a few of the tasty side dishes below.
- Classic bread stuffing – My grandmother’s recipe, with just a little fiddling from me.
- 5 ingredient corn casserole – Literally the easiest corn casserole recipe.
- Aligot – Mashed potatoes packed with cheese, they are so delicious.
- Roasted Hubbard squash – A beautiful side for your holiday table.
- Hubbard squash pasta with sage – A great vegetarian option.
- Sage onion rolls – This dinner rolls are full of flavor.
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- 4 Honeynut squash, split in half, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans // 60g
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup // 78g
- 2 tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C / Gas mark 4.
- Place sliced Honeynut squash into shallow dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 - 25 minutes, until tender.
- While squash is in the oven, make the maple pecan syrup: Heat a small sauce pot (1 qt. size) over medium heat. Add pecans and dry toast them for 5 - 6 minutes, until fragrant.
- Pour in maple syrup and let it come to a boil. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat.
- Drizzle pecan maple syrup mixture over squash and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven and let cool slightly before sprinkling crumbles of goat cheese on top.
- Lastly, sprinkle chopped parsley, or other fresh herbs over the top to finish.
We are vegetable lovers in our house, so this serves 4. You could stretch this to 6 people if you are serving other sides in addition to the squash.
You can swap out butternut squash in place of the Honeynut if you can't find them and process with the recipe as is, after peeling them.
Nut allergy? Try swapping out the pecans for pepitas or use the seeds from your squash as a garnish on top instead of the nuts.
Substitute ricotta for goat cheese, if you prefer it.
Serving Size:1 squash
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 316Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 358mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 8gSugar: 16gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 10/28/21.